With the All Star break over and the second half of the 2013 fantasy baseball season underway, it’s time to look at a few key players who can help make or break you in the second half.
At this point, a player’s first half has helped get your team where it is today, but it doesn’t matter much for the rest of the season. First half stars can become duds while guys who did little to nothing in the first few months of the season can help carry your team to a championship. One of those players is…
Seattle Mariners 1B Justin Smoak
Smoak was once a big time prospect taken 11th overall in the 2008 draft by the Texas Rangers. After a few solid seasons he was promoted in 2010, but after amassing a ton of strikeouts he was traded to the Mariners along with a few other prospects in the Cliff Lee trade. He came back up to the majors later that year with Seattle and played well in 14 games.
Unfortunately in 2011 he managed to hit just .234 with the Mariners with 15 home runs and 55 RBI in 122 games. He struggled mightily again in 2012 and was even demoted again at one point. The young slugger did hit 19 home runs but hit just .217 with a very disappointing .290 OBP.
It was more of the same to start this season for Smoak as he batted .237 with just one home run in April. He was starting to get it going a bit in May with a few homers and was showing much better patience at the plate as his OBP was as high as .370 in the month, but he then suffered an oblique injury that caused him to miss 21 games.
Since returning, however, Smoak has quietly been one of the Mariners’ better hitters while finally showing some of that All Star potential. He still does strikeout more than most, but his increased patience has brought his season OBP up to .373 and has also helped him hit .270, which would be his highest batting average since he hit .300 in 2010 down in Triple-A.
He is most beneficial in OBP and OPS leagues but he can give you some decent power without killing your average as an injury fill-in at first base at the moment. If he does stay patient at the plate, however, we could really start seeing the hitter the Rangers through they were drafting back in 2008. Grab him for depth or just as a flyer and hope that he doesn’t revert back to his free-swinging self any time soon.